Reward Your Friends and Punish Your Enemies

Perhaps you have heard that saying before.  Or, maybe this variation of the Golden Rule:  Do unto others before they do unto you.  Both have the idea of doing something to the other person that the other person is not going to like.  The statements are both rooted in selfishness.  They lead to a desire for vengeance.

What is the relationship of the Christian to vengeance?  If someone wrongs you, do you want to “”get them back”?  Do you feel a need to “get even?  Who are you thinking about when you experience a desire for vengeance?  Yourself?  Think about these questions.  You don’t have to tell me.  But, tell yourself.  Tell God.

What does God say about vengeance?  That’s not hard to find:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NKJV)

Like those Bible verses that talk about forgiving someone who has wronged me or showing mercy to someone who is undeserving, this one can be hard to obey.  The verse that follows it can be even harder:

Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” (Romans 12:20 NKJV)

I told you so.  Given the context, those are probably coals of purification, not coals of pain.  The rationale for these two verses is the third one, which follows:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 NKJV)

Perhaps we could rewrite our title statement like this:  “Reward your friends, and convert your enemies.”

I believe people will present as candidates for conversion to Christianity when Christians begin to act like…well…Christians.  When others see love, mercy, forgiveness, and humility in us – I believe they’ll want to be a part of a group that lives that way.  On the other hand, if we draw a line in the sand and start looking for a fight – I believe we’ll get one.  A lot of fights end with both sides coming away losers.

If we want to fight, here’s how we should do it:

  • Fight evil with good
  • Fight hate with love
  • Fight arrogance with humility
  • Fight injustice with mercy
  • Fight sin with forgiveness
  • Fight war with peace

We don’t usually fight this way because to fight like this is hard.  Pulling the trigger on arrogance, hate, and war is easy.  That’s the simple way.  That’s what people expect.   Humility, love, and mercy is hard.

You know, it takes two people to argue.  Can you say, “It’ll be hard to argue with me”? Can you look for solutions that don’t involve fighting?  Here is some good advice:

For he who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:10-11 NKJV)

Can you “seek peace and pursue it”?

When you think of 9-11, do you have thoughts of vengeance, or purifying good works?  Do you glory in war, or seek peace?

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